Manufacturers showcased a host of interesting pick-ups, ranging from the essential and affordable workhorses to the over-the-top posemobiles from Tata, Ford, Chevrolet and even Fiat, offering something for everybody.

Manufacturers showcased a host of interesting pick-ups, ranging from the essential and affordable workhorses to the over-the-top posemobiles from Tata, Ford, Chevrolet and even Fiat, offering something for everybody.

Indian manufacturer Tata recently announced its entry into the South African market. At Auto Africa, its Telcoline range of pickups was displayed alongside its passenger car and heavy vehicle offerings at its refreshing outdoor stand.

Offered in 4X2 and 4X4 single and double cabs, the Telcoline range is based on the previous generation Mitsubishi L200 (Colt). All derivatives are equipped with power steering, five-speed manual gearboxes and limited slip diff. The two-litre, intercooled turbodiesel power plant develops 64 kW at 4 300 r/min and 190 N.m of torque at 2 500.

Tata says the Telcoline has a double reinforced load area, and strengthened underbody and suspension. Single cab models can take a 1,31-ton load while the double cabs can handle 1,25 tons.

Standard features include immobiliser, central locking, rear demister, height-adjustable headlights, tilt-adjustable steering column and air-conditioning on all 4x4s. The top of the range double-cab 4x4 also has an alarm, remote central unlocking, nudge bar, roll bar, rear step, a radio/CD and alloy wheels.

Fiat Auto SA also used the opportunity to unveil the Fiat Strada, its Ford Bantam / Opel Corsa Utility competitor in the sub-one-tonner market. Produced locally for the domestic market, the Strada will be available in three derivatives when it becomes available in mid-2005.

The 1,2- and 1,6-litre petrol derivatives produce power of 54 and 74 kW, and maximum torque of 102 and 140 N.m, respectively. The 1,7-litre turbodiesel version delivers 51 kW at 4 600 r/min and 135 N.m at 2 500 r/min.

With its 2,7 m wheelbase, the Strada offers a sizable loadbox, though specific details were not given. Provisional standard equipment includes power steering, air conditioning, electric windows, remote central locking and a driver's airbag.

The canary-yellow Chevrolet SSR (Super Sport Roadster) on the GM stand recalls the Chevrolet trucks of the 1940s.

Part roadster, part convertible, one of the SSR's greatest features is its ability to transform itself in less than 30 seconds. Super Sport Roadster

And super fast it is! This pick-up uses a rumbling 5,3-litre V8 engine that produces 223 kW at 5 200 r/min and 448 N.m of torque at 4 000 r/min.

Unconventional exterior styling is offset by an extensive list of standard features and conveniences within the cabin, including cruise control, a trip computer, steering wheel mounted controls and keyless entry.

The SSR has no shortage of safety equipment, either, and is fitted with driver and passenger airbags, ABS, traction control and a limited slip diff.

Ford plans to go for the pickup jugular with its hugely intimidating F250, available in single and double cab options. The three derivatives - a single cab 4X2, single cab 4X4 and double cab 4X4 - are equipped with a massive 4,2-litre V6 powerplant. The turbodiesels are capable of producing 146 kW at 3 800 r/min and 455 N.m at 2 000 r/min.

With the F250's comprehensive list of standard and optional safety and comfort features, expect to pay about R450 000 when it is launched here in March/April 2005.